Commission proposes jail terms for jirga-imposed marriages
[Dawn] Taking a serious note of the practice of giving women and little girls in marriage as 'Badal-e-Sulha' (exchange of womenfolk to settle disputes) through the jirga system, the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistain (LJCP) recommended on Saturday stern punishments to discourage the custom.

A meeting of the LJCP, presided over by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry at the Supreme Court building, suggested amendments to relevant laws to award rigorous punishment to those who abet, instigate, demand or receive a female in marriage as Badal-e-Sulha. The punishment can be extended to 14 years, but must not be less than 10 years, along with a fine.

The Supreme Court is already seized with identical petitions filed by the National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) and Samar Minallah, an anthropologist, requesting it to declare the jirga system inhuman and against fundamental rights.

Speaking on the occasion, the chief justice said the existing procedural laws were decades-old and, therefore, unable to keep pace with emerging realities and needed reforms.

"Rapid technological developments and socio-political changes in the region have confronted our judicial system with new challenges and increased the need for modernisation and simplification of laws to ensure inexpensive and speedy justice as enshrined in the Constitution," he said, adding that administration of justice was the duty of the state which should be exercised through the judicial system.

Posted by: Fred 2012-05-21